Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Particles - New & Selected Poems — Dan Gerber (Copper Canyon Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Particles - New & Selected Poems.  Dan Gerber.  Copper Canyon Press.  Port Townsend, Washington.  2017.


Dan Gerber's Particles - New & Selected Poems covers the years 1971 to the present and the first thing that Today's book of poetry noticed was the consistency.  Gerber is writing with the same careful authority now as he did almost fifty years ago.  Another way to approach this would be to say that Gerber's older poems do not feel dated, they remain fresh as daisies.

It's no mean feat to carry a voice through the decades.  Even the Rolling Stones have changed their sound over the years, Dylan went electric.  Gerber, strong out of the gate,  and has still never wavered.

Spring Creek

Standing at ease in the current,
watching my thoughts stream by,
seventeen thousand thoughts in a day.
If I grasp one the river stops flowing.

Those horses on the walls of the Chauvet cave,
twenty thousand years before the pharoahs—
unsurpassed and thoroughly modern—
before Homer, Heraclitus, or Pollock.

Do we think of pigeons as lowly
because they crowd our trees and the empty spring day?
I saw one torn apart by a hawk — one bird —
and at that moment I grieved.

My grief is here with my joy now,
wingtip to talon, they circle,
one closer at first, then the other.

...

Dan Gerber reminds Today's book of poetry of Robert Bly with his clean voice. But Gerber is a poet on his own, Today's book of poetry can't remember when we last read a poet with this combination of certain and clear.

We could be terribly wrong but Today's book of poetry sees cycles as a central theme of Particles.
The circle of life,"we are born, we suffer, we die" as Anatole France suggested, has been altered by the smooth dulcet tones of Dan Gerber's poems to be, more properly, "we are born, we see beauty and we suffer, we die."

Now don't ever blame Mr. Gerber for the outlandish claims of Today's book of poetry.  But Dan Gerber's shift of the bar is not small change.  In the order of things Gerber's consistent, charming and subtly powerful voice has been ringing the bell through generations who've abandoned the narrative for more academic and esoteric ground.

Not Gerber, he has stayed the course with his reflective posture, careful breathing and sustained optimism.

For Randall Jarrell

                             for Gretel Ehrlich

A man struck by lightning
is seldom appeased by house current.
The bolt that steals vision or
restores it, splits the young poplar,
hurls thunder over the roof,
makes widows of farmwives
and ashes of the barn.

The wild geese never die; the lilacs
reappear each May, and the night sky
continues its imperturbable dance.

...

Today's book of poetry gets excited when the name of any of the giants appears in a poem.  Randall Jarrell was under appreciated, but we can see that Dan Gerber thought highly of him.  Yet another reason to sit down at Gerber's fire and listen to him burn.

Our morning read was a tickle here at the Today's book of poetry offices.  Our heat wave continues; my computer has turned itself off twice this morning, the screen just goes blank with a pppffffffttttt.
It does not like the heat.  Someone was kind enough to leave a chocolate on my pillow last night.  When I tried to open it, liquid chocolate ran all over my hand.  Pure liquid.

We've got the big fans out now, blowing directly on our computers.  Milo, our head tech, is working on better solutions, bless his big egghead heart.  Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, led the charge this morning.

Dan Gerber's poetry makes all the readers look good.  At every point in these poems Gerber's honest voice, and all of his intentions, are perfectly clear.  His quiet voice rings with authority.

Finally, This Rain

Every spring, foretold by its candles,
the pine grows that much taller.

Becoming the image of the image cast ahead
of what we hope to become —

stars continually revising themselves
and stars too faint to be named

translate the great dark hours of our being
into a language we love.

...

Today's book of poetry has a great deal of admiration for the poet/novelist Jim Harrison.  When we saw his blurb on the cover of Particles Today's book of poetry knew we would like the poetry of Dan Gerber.  We just had no idea how much.

Just like the best in any other endeavor, these poems quietly go about their business without a care in the world.  They know their own strength.  Dan Gerber burns with assured certainty.


Dan Gerber

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 Dan Gerber is the author of a dozen books of poetry, fiction, essays, and memoir.  He has received the Mark Twain Award, "Book of the Year" honors from Foreward magazine, and inclusion in Best American Poetry and The American Life in Poetry

BLURBS
“Dan Gerber tenderly reels his readers through the ‘beautiful movie’ he calls the passing of time on earth in a language completely unadorned and Zen-like in its quietude. The thing itself carries the weight of these poems, which recall the deep imagery of Vallejo, Neruda and Wright.”
—Rain Taxi

“Gerber has a gentle touch and an unaffected, articulate voice that can be smart, funny, wise—sometimes all at the same time.”
 —Library Journal

“These are beautiful meditative poems of surprise and wonder fully engaged with the world of experience, which he regards with a sacramental reverence.”
 —Mark Arendt, awards judge, Society of Midland Authors 2013 Book of the Year Award in Poetry

“[Gerber’s] poetry explores everyday experiences and images, successfully converting them into something unique and magical.”
 —Library of Michigan

“[Gerber’s] evocations are clearly, simply rendered with an almost Zen-like kind of meditative transcendence.”
 —Fallon Eagle Standard

“[Gerber] is one of the most adept and accessible of the poets who explore the meaning of humans, relation with earth and existence itself.”
 —ForeWord

"Dan Gerber's work is completely untarnished by fad or fashion and I enter it again and again with a sense of wonderment.  When our age pass, this work will remain."
—Jim Harrison

Dan Gerber
at the EP Foster Library
Video: AskewPoetryJournal


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